Op-ed: Am I not worth a psychologist’s time?


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Brittany Lyden

When the overwhelming stress of the college life hits, many experience true anxiety and depression for the first time in their lives. Luckily for me, when I experienced this, I had a helpful support system that recommended free campus therapy. My sister had previously gone to the clinic on her campus and explained how easy it was to arrange. “For your first appointment just call and you will fill out a little paper work, after that you just get on a schedule. Simple as that!” she said.

I spent the next 20 minutes being transferred from one clinic receptionist to the next and being put on hold. I began to think my sister’s advice wasn’t going to apply to UK. After holding out a few more minutes, I had an appointment lined up for two weeks from the day.

Fourteen days of struggling later, I was anxiously awaiting my appointment. I met my therapist and we hit it off! Conversation was simple, and I felt the security and relief I was looking for. Toward the end of my appointment, the therapist voiced that she didn’t have much availability but hoped to see me again soon. I went to the front desk and tried my hardest to make our schedules work. The next session she had was over a month later so I decided I wanted to come back but see someone else.

Therapist number two was nice; I didn’t feel the same level of comfort I did before, but nice. When the questions began to flow I realized that she knew nothing about me. It didn’t even seem like she had glanced at my file. I had to start from square one and explain everything all over again: why I am the way I am, why I suffer from depression, how long I have had anxiety, the tragedies in the past that caused it all and so on.

This particular day was a good day for me. I was happy and things were beginning to look up for me.

That happiness went away by the end of my session. While walking home afterward, I felt drained, as if I had just emptied myself out to someone only to be cut off and sent home. Getting back to normal seemed even further away than before. Naturally, I didn’t want to make another appointment. I found myself considering returning to the clinic off and on. The few times I thought about making another appointment, I tried to look into visits via the online UK portal in hopes with a few clicks of a button I could have someone to talk to again. I thought I would have the chance to choose who I would see and when their availability was, similarly to how students can do when scheduling an appointment at the clinic when they’re sick, but sadly the portal did not allow me to do that.

Not wanting to go through the effort of a lengthy phone call just to be told I wouldn’t be able to see one therapist consistently, I began looking into any free clinics in the Lexington area. There are none. While some offered discounts, I found none that were free. As a poor college kid, I realized there was a slim chance of making habitual therapy happen for me.

In January 2019, over a year later, I found myself trying to make an appointment again. But the process was just as complex as before. With an internship, job and full class load, on top of having a long-distance relationship, I felt like I needed to talk to a therapist more than ever. Sadly, my mindset was that if I wasn’t important enough to my school for them to make time to see me then, this time wasn’t going to be any different.

This is a shame. This kind of therapy could be incredibly helpful to students who are struggling with the weight of balancing college. Group therapy and public meditation rooms are the only simple options that students have access to, yet we are told we have access to a psychology clinic whenever we need it. I’m aware this may be due to the high influx of students who already use the clinic, and I don’t mean to insult the work that they do. However, there are students who need help even if they don’t appear to be an extreme at-risk individual. If I’m ashamed of sounding overly dramatic and don’t want to bring too much attention to myself, is my mental health not as important as another student’s?

I feel that the goal should be to help and cater to all students equally, regardless of “availability.” Never once did the clinic employees give me another option of how I could seek help. I felt as though the clinic had no obligation to me unless I said the harsh six words that people actually take seriously.

Things happen, and people aren’t perfect. But from my experience, and from the recent incidents here on campus, there has to be an easier way to receive help, clearer communication between students and the clinic and more consideration from UK of the state of its students.